Tom Mayenknecht: Raptors are on a tear with Leonard leading the way

Bulls of the week

At 19-4, the Toronto Raptors have the best record in the NBA. After consecutive 50-win-plus campaigns, the Raptors are on pace to an impressive 67-win regular season that would be among the best in league history. They have the makeup to pair up with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. And those talking points are precisely why Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster pressed the button on the high-risk, high reward trade of DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard. So far, so good, even if there is no guarantee that Leonard will be in Toronto for more than one season.

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs are making Toronto equally bullish on the NHL stock market. Even with Austen Matthews missing most of November due to injury and not having William Nylander signed, the Leafs go into the weekend with a top-three NHL record of 18-8. Also bullish among Canadian-based NHL teams are the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames, both joining the Leafs in current playoff position.

Yet the most bullish force in the business of sport in Canada this week has been football, specifically that of the four-down American brand. Never have Canadian TV ratings for the NFL been as high as they are going into Week 13. After losing one-fifth of their 2015 American viewership in 2016 and 2017 (declines of nine and 10 per cent year-over-year), the NFL and its U.S. TV partners are up four per cent to date in 2018. Yet here in Canada, NFL TV numbers are up a whopping 19 per cent and only part of that can be attributed to wide-casting on CTV, CTV 2 and TSN.

With audiences averaging in the order of 700,000-800,000 on any given Sunday in Canada, NFL football is replicating the numbers that the CFL enjoyed at its peak from 2009-2011, and is approaching unrivalled Hockey Night in Canada territory. It’s not without its issues — including domestic violence, social justice and concussions — but the NFL is hot stuff in Canada these days.

Bears of the week

The migration of young Canadian football fans to the NFL — especially in the large urban markets of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — has been tracked for several years now. But not until this year was it considered a factor in TV ratings for the legendary Grey Cup. It was.

One can take the glass-half-full approach and cite that an aggregate audience of 8.4 million Canadians watching at least some of the Cup is solid. It happens for only two other TV events: The Super Bowl and the World Juniors whenever Canada plays in the gold-medal game. Even the average Cup national audience is second only to the Super Bowl among annual events. The NFL title game draws an average audience of over seven million Canadians to CTV and TSN when simultaneous substitution is in effect and in the order of 4.5 million when the NBC/FOX/CBS cable signals in Canada include U.S. advertising.

The glass-half-empty reminds us that this year’s 3.4-million average audience on TSN and RDS is about half of the 2009 and 2010 Cups that reached north of six million.

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.</p

***

Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.